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While the origin of the city had remained unknown for centuries, the Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Ligurians had variously been proposed as founders of the city (for example, a colony of the ancient city of Pisa, Greece).
Archaeological remains from the 5th century BC confirmed the existence of a city at the sea, trading with Greeks and Gauls.
In 930 Pisa became the county centre (status it maintained until the arrival of Otto I) within the mark of Tuscia.
Lucca was the capital but Pisa was the most important city, as in the middle of 10th century Liutprand of Cremona, bishop of Cremona, called Pisa ("capital of the province of Tuscia"), and one century later the marquis of Tuscia was commonly referred to as "marquis of Pisa".
Between 10, Pisa went on to defeat several rival towns in Sicily and conquer Carthage in North Africa.
In 1051–1052 the admiral Jacopo Ciurini conquered Corsica, provoking more resentment from the Genoese.
In 1017 Sardinian Giudicati were militarily supported by Pisa, in alliance with Genoa, to defeat the Saracen King Mugahid who had settled a logistic base in the north of Sardinia the year before.The Virgilian commentator Servius wrote that the Teuti, or Pelops, the king of the Pisaeans, founded the town thirteen centuries before the start of the common era.The maritime role of Pisa should have been already prominent if the ancient authorities ascribed to it the invention of the naval ram.Strabo referred Pisa's origins to the mythical Nestor, king of Pylos, after the fall of Troy.Virgil, in his Aeneid, states that Pisa was already a great center by the times described; the settlers from the Alpheus coast have been credited with the founding of the city in the 'Etruscan lands'.
This victory gave Pisa supremacy in the Tyrrhenian Sea.